Quick Fix: Gaylord native gives new lift to historic home
GAYLORD — Gary Scott recalled his own bit of “history” with the house at 120 N. Center Ave.
“I remember riding my bicycle to get a Slurpee at 7-Eleven and thinking it was such a neat old house,” he said.
Fast forward a few years when Scott was a history teacher and basketball coach at Gaylord High School.
“I drove by it every day,” he said. “And then the house became available in the early 2000s.”
But it was not until 2013 that Applegate Building LLC, owned by Scott and his business partner and former college roommate, Tom Nelson, purchased the venerable “Quick House.”
To date, Scott and Nelson have restored buildings in Indianapolis and Bloomington, Ind., where the company is based, and continue to develop properties in downtown Gaylord.
“We develop historical buildings — unique properties — and find operators for them,” he said.
According to Scott, this fall, the classic Queen Anne style house just north of downtown will be home to a new upscale restaurant, operated by Gaylord native Ian Murphy and his wife. Office space will be available on the second floor.
“We were definitely speculating on this,” Scott said. “It’s not an easy project. It’s been very challenging and very rewarding. It has also been enjoyable to learn about the history of the house and the history of the community.”
Scott expressed appreciation to historic preservation consultant Kenneth Lingaur, and to members of the Otsego County Historical Society, including Phil Alexander, Margaret Albert and others who contributed their knowledge and memories to piece together the story of the house.
“We took a year to learn about the house and its history. We knew we had something historically significant,” Scott said.
Alexander said the project is an exciting addition to the other historic homes on Center Avenue that have or are currently undergoing renovations.
“This will be a boost for downtown Gaylord,” he said. “We have so few historic homes. It’s great that someone has gone to the extreme effort to preserve this beautiful home, and it’s snowballing.”
The “Quick House,” known to many in Gaylord as the “Saunders House,” was built in 1900 by James A. Quick.
According to an account in the Souvenir Edition of the Otsego County Herald from Sept. 15, 1905:
“James A. Quick dates his entry into Gaylord some twenty years ago — 1885, hailing from Oakland county. A farmer by occupation he quickly purchased land and proceeded to tickle the soil with a hoe and it brought forth abundant yield for him … Several times James has been honored with positions of trust, and has always acquitted himself well, and at the present writing is one of the village trustees. He has extensive property interests in both town and country, and a half-tone picture of his beautiful Gaylord home adorns this issue of the Herald. All hail to such men as James A. Quick.”
Quick played “no unimportant part” in Otsego County’s growth and success. In addition to farming, he had interests in the timber industry, owned a livery, co-founded the Otsego County Bank and had many real estate holdings.
James Quick was significant to the history and early development of Gaylord,” Lingaur said. “He was a landowner, a businessman, and also a postmaster and a trustee.”
According to Lingaur’s detailed account submitted to the United States Department of the Interior for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, after Quick’s death in 1909, his wife lived in the house until 1912. In October 1913, Dr. Harry Knapp purchased the house with the intent of using it for his residence and medical office. In March 1919, he sold the house to Dr. William Housen, who owned it for two years and practiced dentistry there. Dr. Charles Saunders, also a dentist, purchased the house in June 1921. Dr. Saunders lived there for 49 years until his death in 1970.
His second wife, Helen, continued to live in the house until her death in 1999. The house has been vacant since then. In October 1999, Tamara Reeme purchased it, then sold it to JGLA Investments in August 2010. Applegate Building LLC purchased the house in August 2013.
Alexander said he wanted to clear up a popular misconception about the structure at 120 N. Center Ave.
“Many people think the house was the hospital,” he said. “No. That it is a common myth. Dr. Saunders was a dentist.”
Lingaur said that because of Quick’s place in history, as well as the architecture of the house, its preservation is important. He noted the Quick House is “one of Gaylord’s most distinguished and intact Queen Anne homes.”
Lingaur said that on Aug. 4, the Quick House was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“It’s good for the community to have something historically significant,” Scott said. “We knew it would be challenging, but we knew it had potential for the National Register because many portions of the house remained vintage.”
Remarkably, much of the nearly 3,300-square-foot house has been unchanged since 1900. Around 1950, Saunders constructed an addition to the southeast corner and “modernized” the first floor interior.
However, the house boasts its original woodwork and pocket doors, wood floors, cast-iron heat registers, ornate front door and some of the hardware and windows.
“Your jaw will drop when you see the tiger maple woodwork — it’s a work of art,” Alexander said.
Scott said most of the renovations involve uncovering and replacing original work.
“We have a high-resolution photograph from 1905 which shows the north and west sides of the house,” he said. He noted that the mid-20th century remodeling was “done very well; Dr. Saunders kept many elements intact.”
Scott said there are numerous upgrades necessary to bring a 116-year-old building to 21st century standards.
A team of local contractors has replaced roofs, rewired and replumbed the house and modified walls to create the restaurant area, all while keeping the vintage character.
“We have to bring the north and west sides back to its original façade to make it look like 1900,” Scott said. “We are rebuilding the wraparound front porch, including the spindles and the architectural elements on the gables, and we are replicating the windows.”
Scott explained that in the 1950 remodeling, the home’s wood siding and cedar shake roof were covered with “transite,” an asbestos tile.
“When we removed the transite, it was tricky, but we found that it actually protected the house,” he said. “Now we have the original siding and roof. That, and the fact that the Saunders family owned it for so long has helped preserve the building.”
Scott said when the Quick House project is complete, there will be outdoor space with landscaping, decks for alfresco dining and parking behind the building. A “pocket park” is planned for the southwest corner that will commemorate the home’s renovation, the people who worked on the job and also tell the stories of people of days gone by who were instrumental in shaping the town of Gaylord.
“We are just the lucky ones to have the opportunity to save this beautiful house,” he said. “A lot of good folks have helped.”
Scott invited anyone who is willing to share information, anecdotes and/ or photographs of the Quick House to contact him at (812) 606-0422.
“Our goal is for this place to become a destination,” Scott said.